I watched most of the Utah Starzz game KJZZ-Ch. 14 broadcast this past Thursday. Didn't listen to very much of it, however.
The station was experiencing some rather severe audio technical difficulties with its telecast of the Starzz-Sting game from the Delta Center - difficulties so severe that the broadcast team was, at times, entirely drowned out by the scratchy cacophony. Noise that was irritating in-and-of itself, not to mention the fact that it interfered with the broadcast.Fortunately, remote controls come equipped with a mute button these days. So rather than continue to subject ourselves to all that noise, it was easier to simply kill the sound altogether.
And a funny thing happened. It is indeed possible to follow the action of a basketball game on TV without having any announcers to tell me what I'm seeing.
Which is not meant as criticism of KJZZ's Steve Brown and Frank Layden, who are actually two of the sportscasters I enjoy listening to most. (Although Layden does tend to get a bit patronizing when he's talking about the Starzz. That's probably the old coach in him.)
But it's not hard to tell which team is scoring baskets, or who's committing what foul or what turnover, or what the score is without actually hearing it. (Of course, it's harder if the station starts running enormous WE ARE EXPERIENCING TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES crawls across the bottom of the screen, covering up the scoreboard and clock graphics.)
Watching a game without the sound is sort of like . . . actually being at the game, in a way.
Which is not to say that sportscasters can't do a lot to add to fans' enjoyment of a game. The insight and analysis of good sportscasters add a dimension you can't get if you actually paid for a seat.
But perhaps the sportscasters ought to sit down in front of a TV, turn on a game and hit the mute button. They might learn that it isn't necessary for them to talk constantly, that more is not better, and that they ought to be sort of the spice that flavors a game.
Too much spice can ruin any meal. Too much sportscaster talk can do the same to any game.
SHOULD WE CARE? The search continues at KSL-Ch. 5 for a replacement for departing sportscaster Craig Bolerjack. But should we really care?
Oh, they're a smart bunch at KSL. They'll undoubtedly hire someone who is fully competent to fill the position. And, with luck, they'll get someone who has a bit of style and a sense of humor as well.
But what that person will be saying will be more important than whoever ends up saying it, a fact that's sometimes forgotten. Sportscasters and journalists of all types are supposed to cover the news, not become the news.
THE PEOPLE'S CHOICE? Maybe KSL should give yours truly the lead sportscaster job. Not that I want it. (Absolutely, unequivocally not.) Not that I'd be good at it. (Choose your adjective - think "dreadful" or "abominable.")
But all the other sportscasters in town - the ones who have occasionally read their names in this column - would undoubtedly enjoy a chance to laugh at my ex-pense.